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Archive for the ‘A+’ Category

Copyright: 2001

Pages: 352 (hardcover edition)

Setting/Type: Contemporary/Romantic Suspense

Grade: A+

Jaine Bright and three close friends share dinner one night and during casual conversation, create a list of qualifications for Mr Perfect–some logical, some hilariously funny, some racy. Within days, their tongue-in-cheek wish list of attributes for the perfect man has been leaked to the press and the resultant publicity is overwhelming. Coworkers, TV crews and reporters barrage the quartet with comments and criticism.

As if Jaine doesn’t have enough to cope with, she has a new neighbour who she suspects is a criminal. She’s relieved to learn that her neighbour is really an undercover cop, but she’s still wary–because smart, sexy Sam Donovan handles her sharp witticisms with easy humour, and Jaine suspects that he may threaten her heart. What Jaine doesn’t know is that she’s about to need Sam desperately for something other than romance because her circle of friends is in big trouble. Unfortunately, that list of qualifications for Mr Perfect has touched off a madman’s rage. All of their lives are threatened and some of them are going to die, maybe all of them, if Sam can’t stop the unknown killer.

Ok, everybody who knows me, knows I am sucker for nice covers .. but that also goes in reverse. Whoever was payed to design the cover of the UK hardcover edition should re-consider his job. That cover is ATROCIOUS!

Mr Perfect is another feel well and cozy re-read book from my shelf (in fact, I DO have a nicer copy!). I have read this book countless times and everytime I do so again I feel totally satisfied and know why I stick to Howard, even though her newer books weren’t among my favorites.

Our heroine is mouthy Jaine Bright, an accountant who meets once a week with three other friends from work for a nice get-together. One evening they start fooling around and write down what makes a man Mr Perfect. Coming up with some serious and solid points but also some smart-ass comments about his endowments and horizontal abilities. Somehow from there everything snowballs into a big fucked-up mess. From the company newsletter, to the Internet and local and national media, everybody becomes interested in this piece of slightly booze-induced female wisdom.

Simultaneously Jaine has to fight on a different front, namely with her next door neighbour whom she thinks to be a cross between a drunk and drug addict. After some hefty and strangely arousing shouting/yelling sessions she finds out Sam is in fact a detective, and is able to arouse her “girly eggs” into a frenzy and her body into a quivering mess. The murder of one of Jaine’s co-workers sets off a race to capture a vicious killer who won’t stop before he has eliminated all involved authors…

Jaine is one fabulous heroine. One of her bad habits is cursing , a mannerism that makes her look totally quirky and funny, especially if you throw in her no bullshit attitude, her affection for racy cars and potent lawn mowers. For me, Jaine is one of the most unique and original heroines out there in Romancelandia. And despite her less than stellar behaviour and smart-ass attitude, or should I say because of it, she has become one of my favorite all-time characters.

Same goes for Mr Gorgeous Sam Donovan. A yummi combination between grumpy (depending on how much sleep he had), charming, exasperating and dangerously sexy. Instead of being a weak and wimpy character like Jaine’s three ex-fiancés were, he has the brain and brawn and the same no BS attitude to take on Jaine and stand up to her. PERRFFFECCT :-)

I remember, Mr Perfect was my very first Howard and even though I consider myself well educated in the villain detecting department (thanks to years of reading Agatha Christies), I couldn’t guess the cuprit. This may be also due to the fact that I was so involved in Jaine’s and Sam’s relationship that I saved my brain cells for “their” parts LOL.

A perfect book, indeed, I think  I will read Open Season, Heart of Fire and Son of the Morning next. Another three fabulous stories from this genie!

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Copyright: 1999

Pages: 336 (hardcover edition)

Setting/Type: Contemporary, Paranormal/Romantic Suspense

Grade: A+

Paris Sweeney, who calls herself Sweeney, is living a pared-down existence devoted to painting when she begins to see ghosts. Worse, she starts painting disturbing images while sleepwalking, then wakes with an unnatural, bone-deep chill that can only be dispelled by direct body contact with the unexpected new man in her life–Richard Worth, the soon-to-be ex-husband of the gallery owner who sells Sweeney’s work. Then Sweeney realizes she’s painting the picture of a murder victim, just before the actual crime takes place. Can she stop the killing before it happens? And if not, is she destined to become either the prime suspect or the murderer’s next victim? Howard keeps the suspense streamlined and straightforward, focusing equally on the relationship between the sympathetic Sweeney, whose dreadful growing-up years forced her to become more independent than is good for her, and Richard, whose drive to leave his old life behind matches his determination to make Sweeney part of his future.

After having taken an envious peak on Alex’s last month’s reading list, I decided to catch up with my re-reading project and ordered some of my favorites to my library branch.

Now You See Her being one of them. Sweeney, the heroine, is a quirky, funny, ghost-seeing heroine that strives on painting great pictures and little else. So far she thinks herself lucky never having been involved in any messy relationships or affairs. That changes when she sees one morning a Diet Cola commercial on TV. Shortly after, she also realizes that her gallery owner’s soon-to-be ex-husband is serious hunk material.

Richard Worth is a to die for hero. I would love to swing my magic wand, making him thereby a real and life person with a secondary residence next to my living quarters :-). Richard grew up poorly but with strong ethical values and an unquenchable thirst to make money. He, too, succeeded, more so than he ever thought possible. Now the only thing he wants is to finish off his rotten marriage with Candra and to persuade Sweeney that he is better for her than Easter and Christmas thrown together. When Sweeney starts having problems because of her ghost-induced night-walking drawing sessions, Richard is the man to help her physically and psychically to recover.

Did I mention that I love this book? Linda Howard is one of the few authors that can pull off a near virginal/inexperienced heroine without making her look like a relict from medieval times. Sweeny is an adorable, funky heroine with a strong sense for humour and zero tolerance for bullshit. Richard is the ideal counterpart. Fed up with hypocrisy and sleek and cold New York they make one of those ideal couples whose names and characters you will never forget, even after another 1000 books.

The plot is very simple but well fleshed out, with a strongly and surely distinguished assortment of characters and villains. What makes this book an A+ read for me is less the plot but the individuality and specialness of Sweeny and Richard, one of the most gorgeous couple out there in Romancelandia.

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